Tag Archive | Joy

2021, Here We Come!

We are in the final week of 2020, and most are hoping and praying that 2021 will be a better year than 2020 has been. We really don’t know what 2021 will bring, but as we approach this new year, I have my eyes fixed on Jesus. How about you? Are your eyes fixed on Jesus? I don’t want to be sidetracked by what may happen or what people may do in 2021. I want to hold onto the goal that I am being beckoned to move forward to Jesus. The only way for me to do that is to keep my eyes fixed on Him.

Over the years, to help me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, I have learned to use scriptures to guide me in my prayers. I have hung on to His words to help me lean into what He wants me to do concerning my relationship with Him. Here are just a few scriptures that have helped me navigate through 2020 and will help me press into 2021:

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have made it. But, I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:12-14 MSG)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT)

“I look up to the mountains; does my help come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God who made heaven and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t sleep. Not on your life Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.” (Psalm121:1-3 MSG)

” When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17 NIV)

There are so many more scriptures I could list, and I am hopeful you already have your own guiding scriptures. I just believe in order to step into this new year, and to face all that awaits whether good or not so good, we must press into God’s Word. In His Word, we find how much He loves us and how compassionate He is towards us.

I pray you have a blessed and safe new year. 2021, Here we come!

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Dear Father, we thank you for being our Good Shepherd. We honor and praise You for being kind and merciful to us. We thank You for this last week of December, and we thank You for giving us strength to run to the end of 2020.

LORD, there have been some challenging days and some moments where our hearts have been heavy, but we have held onto knowing that You have never left us or forsaken us. We thank You, Father, for being our Protector, our Provider and our Peace. We thank You for giving us hope when all around seemed hopeless. LORD, we thank You for the joy You gave us even as we were weeping.

Dear LORD, we pray for safe passage into this new year. Please bless and keep us through all that we may face in the days to come. Please continue to protect us, to provide for us and to guide us. Precious Father, we pray for Your divine healing grace and mercy to cure all manner of sickness and disease. We pray You will provide safe shelter for those who are homeless. Father, bless the unemployed with jobs and thank You for all the financial blessings we will recieve.

LORD, we pray as this year ends and a new one begins that the spiritually lost will be found and the spiritually blind will see. We thank You for bringing prodigal sons and daughters home. Lord, we declare breakthrough and deliverance for those struggling because of evil plots and plans that have taken them out of Your will.

LORD, we pray that as we look to the hills, we see You as our forever Help in this world. Please forgive us for our wrongs and disobedience. Help us to do better and to live more righteously. Father, we thank You in advance for all You will do to keep us safe and watch over us. Because of You, Lord and because we know You go before us, we boldly declare to 2021, Here we come! In the matchless and mighty name of Jesus, we say amen and amen again!

Are You Ready?

We have made it to the last month of 2020! I don’t know about you, but now that we are in December I feel this year has zipped by! Yes, I said zipped! In spite of all that has been going on around us, I feel like 2020 started just a short while ago and here we are approaching the last few weeks of the year! You’re probably thanking God for 2020 coming to an end, but are you ready for 2021? Are you really ready?

I have been hearing people say “I will be so glad when 2020 is over.” Or I’ve heard, “I can’t wait for things to get back to normal!” Do you really think things will go back to a resemblance of 2019 as if 2020 did not happen? During my 2020 experience, I have felt that God was shaking things up so that we would not return to the normalcy of pre-2020, but that what He planned for us would manifest in the earth.

Now don’t get me wrong, 2020 was not what I had anticipated it to be. One minute we were ushering in a new year with new resolutions, new hopes, and then all of a sudden, something happened that we did not expect to see or experience! And the interesting thing about approaching the year 2020 was that many were speaking of it being a year of 20/20 vision and insight! I’d venture to say that most of us did not see any of what we expected to see in 2020! I look at 2020 not just as another year in my life, but I will remember it as an unusual and amazing experience. The year 2020 has not been like any other year I have seen in my lifetime. I have had my share of ups and downs this year; I’ve had moments of joy and moments of despair, but God has continually blessed me and sustained me throughout 2020.

Isaiah 55:8-11 says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways. This is the LORD’s declaration. For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper in what I send it to do.” No matter what we were planning and thinking right before the strike of midnight on January 1, 2020, God’s thoughts were already different than ours. His plans, in the midst of all that we have experienced in 2020, was that His word would accomplish what He intended to accomplish.

I ask again, are you ready? Are you ready for what 2021 may bring? I hear the LORD say don’t just finish the year strong, finish ready! Be prepared! He asks what have you learned about Him in 2020 that will prepare you for 2021? Have you grown in your relationship with Him over these past 12 months? Have you spent more time complaining or have you spent more time being grateful? Have you worried more or have you put more of your trust in Him? Have you spent more time watching news reports or have you spent more time reading the Bible and feasting on God’s word? Have you prayed and fasted more? It’s not too late to consider making some changes before midnight strikes and we usher in the year 2021.

I don’t know how much different 2021 will be from 2020, but I do know God has a purpose and a plan for us. What God has set in motion will not return to Him empty or void. In 2020 we have gone through the pains of feeling the thorns from the rose bush before we see the rose blooming. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to see the roses bloom!

The remainder of Isaiah 55 in verses 12-13 reads as follows: You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush, a cypress will come up and instead of the brier, a myrtle will come up; it will make a name for the LORD as an everlasting sign that will not be destroyed.

Before this year ends I would encourage you to give some thought as to what you have learned from 2020. More importantly, what have you learned from God? I would also encourage you to write your thoughts and memories in a journal. I think our 2020 experience will make some amazing stories to tell in later years.

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Dear Father in Heaven, how amazing and wonderful You are! Thank You for blessing us to live through the experience of 2020. Prepare us to be ready for what You have in store for us in 2021. Saturate us with strength, power, wisdom, knowledge and love that comes from You. LORD, let the words of our mouths and meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You. Forgive us of our sins. LORD, we thank You for being the giver of life and the sustainer of life. Prepare us to be ready for what You will accomplish in the days ahead and bless us to see how Your plans will prosper in this land. In the precious and mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Inevitable Change

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Yes, that is a lizard in the picture!  I was outside checking on my plants the other morning, when I spotted this lizard being very still on the exterior wall of my home.   I really don’t do well with seeing lizards or any other little creatures around me, but this one had me reaching for my phone so that I could take a picture.  If you look closely, you will see what appears to be a white substance on the lizard.   My first thought was what did it get into, and then I realized that it might be shedding it’s old skin.

I tend to pay attention to the nature around me and I am always curious as to why God allows me to see or hear certain things. So after seeing this lizard,  I did a bit of research on lizards shedding their skins. I found out that shedding is an indication of growth and renewal.  I also found out that some lizards will eat the skin they shed for nourishment.  The shedding of the skin is an inevitable change the lizard will experience.

Does an inevitable change occur when we join with Christ? I surely hope so! Inevitable means that something is certain to happen.  Change means becoming or experiencing something different.  As we join with Christ we have to put away the former things and walk in our newness with Him.  Of course, this doesn’t mean everything will be easy from here on out, but it does mean we can find hope and peace in our newness with Him.  It means we can put all of our trust in Him instead of being so quick to worry and try to figure things out on our own.   It means we strive to be better and to make better choices.

II Corinthians 5:17(GNT) says “Anyone who has joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.”   When we join with Christ, are we similar to this lizard shedding it’s skin? I would imagine that in a way we are.  Hopefully, we are getting rid of what is old to embrace the new.  Hopefully, we are able to allow what we’ve been through to help us grow and mature in our relationship with Christ.  Just as the lizard may eat it’s shed skin for nourishment, we can take our past experiences to learn life’s lessons and move forward.

Another thought I had about this lizard shedding it’s skin is that you can’t put new wine into old wineskin.  Jesus says in Luke 5:37 NIV: “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.”  This parable came about when there was a discussion of John’s disciples time of fasting being compared to Jesus and His disciples not fasting.  Traditionally, fasting was a time of mourning over sins or an urgency for prayer.  Jesus was telling them it was a time of celebration; time to embrace a new covenant.  How often do we try to hold onto old traditions that no longer serve a purpose to help us move forward?  

When I was a little girl, one of my chores was to iron pillow cases after the laundry was done.  I have often wondered what was the purpose in ironing pillow cases when we were just going to wrinkle them as soon as we laid our heads on them.  I do understand it was to make everything nice and neat, but really, what was the point?  Fast forward to today, I’m thankful for wrinkle free pillow cases and those decorative pillow covers.  But just imagine, if I told you I was still ironing pillow cases! You’d probably think does she know how much better it is to embrace the wrinkle free and not waste time ironing! She’s ironing something that does not need to be ironed. There are times we just have to let go of the old traditions and embrace what is new.  (I don’t know if that analogy worked for you, but it made me smile!)  

Jesus offers us something new everyday.  The Bible tells us His mercies are new every morning.  What He offers us is so much better than what we have.  I would like to think the lizard felt so much better after the shedding process was complete.  Getting rid of the old and shaking off that extra burden from the old skin it was carrying around was probably a relief.  I’m sure it looked different from the appearance I captured in my photo.  I believe we look different when we grow and mature in our relationship with Christ.   We don’t wear worry  on our faces as much.  We don’t look like we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, because we know  we can cast our burdens on Him.

As you draw closer to Christ, I encourage you to embrace the inevitable changes that should occur in your life.  You have to get yourself to a place where you don’t do certain things you used to do.  You have to resist fleshly desires and seek God for strength and direction.  You have to increase your faith in Him, and make wise decisions concerning you and others.  You have to pray more and study the Bible more.  You have to shed the old and embrace the new.

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Father, we come before You and give thanks to You for being a gracious and merciful God.  We thank You for being wonderful and loving towards us.  Lord, we thank You for all things new.  We know You are the one Who makes a new way out of what was the old way, and we look to You for all we need.  Dear Father, we seek Your guidance for the inevitable changes in our lives because of our relationship with You.   We ask You to  cleanse us with hyssop; give us joy and gladness in bones that were once crushed.  Lord, we know as we embrace change and seek You to forgive us that You hide Your face from our sins and blot out our iniquities. Lord, as we join with You and change for the better, create in us a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within us.  In the precious name of Jesus, amen!

Are You Missing Out On What Mary Discovered?

Have you noticed that whenever you are researching or shopping online that a pop up appears out of nowhere?  Either customer service is being offered via a chat with a representative or an advertisement for something completely unrelated to your actual search pops up on the screen. Distractions!  These pop ups momentarily take my focus away from what I was trying to research.  I then have to intentionally take the time to dismiss this distraction or get even more distracted because I take up the offer to chat with the representative.

What about your phone? How often does it distract you?  I can be in the middle of responding to one text and get another text from someone else.  Quite often, I will switch to the new incoming text and start engaging in a conversation forgetting about the response I was sending to someone else.

What about setting aside time to spend with God?  How often are you distracted from your quiet time with God, because of all you have going on each day? There’s your family obligations, your work, ministry work, scheduled appointments, emergencies, friends who need you, social media distractions, and anything else that tends to pop up and capture part of your day.   Also, don’t forget within the 24 hours you are given, that you need time to get dressed, eat a meal or two and get a few hours of rest.  Where does the time go?

If you are able to get up and give God the first part of the day He blesses you with, that is great!  If you are able to give Him some time at night before going to bed, that is great, too.  But are you able to give Him time without being distracted?  Are you able to sit still and feel His presence? My answer to the last two questions is “sometimes!”  Thankfully, I am doing better than I have in the past.  I am grateful God is patient with me as I learn to deal with my distractions so I can enjoy being still in His presence even more.

Luke 12:40-41 tells the story of when Jesus visits Mary and Martha.  The verses from the New Living Translation says  “But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me”.  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details.  There is only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

We often get distracted by comparing what we do to what others are doing.  Martha actually told Jesus it was unfair she was working and Mary was sitting around doing nothing!  We have been conditioned to think it is better to be busy and moving around rather than to just take a moment to sit down and rest.  Imagine Martha’s surprise when Jesus told her that Mary was doing the right thing!  I wonder if she tried to continue the conversation with Him to try and prove her point.  More importantly, I wonder if she went back to the work she was doing and still missed out on what Mary had discovered.

What do you think Mary discovered?  I believe as Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, she discovered her Lord and Savior.  I believe she discovered the truest form of love.   I believe she released all hurt and shame and discovered forgiveness.   I believe she felt a peace from all her worries and day to day pressures.  The Bible tells us we can cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. I can only imagine that is what Mary did that day.   I believe Mary discovered Jesus was the answer to everything she needed.

Jesus was right there in the same house with Mary and Martha.  Mary chose to sit with Him and Martha chose to stay busy.  How often do you do what Martha chose to do?  Jesus is telling you He is right there with you and He wants to spend time with you, but you stay busy.  Are you too busy to take a few moments and be still in His presence? Are you missing out on the joy and peace that comes with sitting at His feet? Are you missing out on what Mary discovered?

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Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being so gracious and merciful to me.  Thank You for being loving and patient with me each day.  Lord, help me to be more like Mary and not become so distracted like Martha, that I miss an opportunity to sit with You.  Oftentimes, I get so anxious about my family, my job, my finances, my health, and other things that I just don’t take the time I should to spend with You.  Lord, help me to become more like Mary.

Father,  I pray that I don’t allow what others are doing to distract me from spending precious time with You.  Lord, I desire to make time, more often than I do, to sit with You.  Help me to tune out what is going on around me, so that I can become more in tune with You.  Lord, in Psalm 23:3 (Message) it says “You are true to your word, you let me catch my breath, and you send me in the right direction.”   I pray I will be more intentional in taking the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and  catch my breath, so that I can also discover what Mary discovered.  In Jesus’ wonderful name, amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While You Wait On God

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When you don’t know what to expect in your personal circumstances or what to expect in what is going on in the world today, expect God.  The definition of expect means to regard something as likely to happen.  Today, I encourage you to  expect God to show up and to work everything out on your behalf.   Expect God to make a way out of no way.  Expect God to be your Healer, your Provider and your Protector. While you wait on the Lord, you should wait with an expectancy.  Expectancy means the state of thinking  or hoping that something pleasant will happen.  While you wait on God, expect Him to be your Strength, your Hope and your Peace.

Psalm 130:5-6 says ” I wait on the Lord, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope.  I wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for morning, more than watchman wait for the morning.” NIV

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Dear Father, thank You for being everything we need.  While we wait for You to do great and mighty things, we wait with a joyful expectancy.  We know that as we wait on You, Lord, You will move in a mighty way.  Dear Lord, even in the midst of chaos,  we still wait with an expectancy knowing You already have the victory.  While we wait, Lord,  we wait with our whole beings and we stand firm on the promises of  Your word.  Lord, we thank You that we can walk by faith and not by sight, confidently expecting Your promises to be fulfilled in our lives. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name, amen and amen again!

 

I Thought The Chair Was Empty

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As I write this blog, I am visiting a location near Cleveland, Ohio.   When I left South Carolina the other day the temperature was 81 degrees, and  when I arrived in Ohio the next day, it was 39 degrees.  Driving through the streets to get to this charming apartment in Ohio, I could see what was left of a light blanket of snow that had fallen the night before. It’s always fascinating for me to see snow blanket the ground and rooftops, especially before it gets too messy.

I share this with you because this morning, I find myself sitting alone at breakfast having a bagel and coffee. (It’s cold outside and right now I am not ready to venture out the front door.)  There are only two chairs at this table and the “empty” one is directly across from me.  As I looked at the “empty” chair, I began to think what if Jesus was sitting in this empty chair and what would I say to Him?

Immediately, I began to think I would tell Him about things in my life I did not get right.  I would tell Him about the wrong decisions I made and how my thoughts and actions often got me into some messy situations. I would let Him know that my heart had been broken a few times and how I had struggled with forgiveness.   I figured if I brought all of this up myself, He wouldn’t have to tell me about how I mishandled things.  As I looked across at what I thought was an  “empty” chair, I heard Him say to me “I love you”.  There was no bringing up the past.  There was no making me feel ashamed. It was just those three words, “I love you.”

As I sat across from this chair with tears and rejoicing in the revelation it was not really  an empty chair, I felt so blessed. It is such a great feeling to know you are loved unconditionally.  Others may bring up your past and remember all the bad stuff,  but not God.  The Bible tells us that He knew each one of us before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs. He knows all about us and He knows what we are going to say and do before we even utter a word or make a move.  He loves us in spite of the mistakes He knew we would make. He is such a loving and compassionate God.

As I took another look at this chair, I began to thank God for blessing me today with His presence, His love and His amazing grace.   The chair in front of me was filled with compassion, strength, joy, peace, hope and most importantly it was filled with the love of Christ.  Whenever Jesus is seated at the table with you, the chair is never empty.

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“Lord, You know everything there is to know about me.  You perceive every moment of my heart and soul, and You understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.   You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and You know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!   You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future and prepared the way, and in kindness You follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With Your hand of love upon my life, You impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.”

Psalm 139:1-7 The Passion Translation

 

 

I Was Broken 2b Restored

I am rejoicing today because the Lord blessed me to wake up on my 57th birthday, and because this is also the 7 year anniversary of Broken-2b-Restored.

I shared my first post on my 50th birthday on November 2, 2011.  When I prayed about starting this blog the Lord gave me the title Broken-2b-Restored.  I knew I wanted to write words to share some of my testimony in hopes my experiences would encourage and lift up others.  I also knew I wanted to share with others how to love God while also, learning to love yourself in spite of experiencing brokeness.

I must admit that in my younger years I was not sure how to love God and how to allow Him to love on me. I would feel that I was not worthy of His love.  I would wonder how could He love me when I didn’t spend time with Him like I should.  I kept thinking I have to get myself together in order for Him to love me and to bless me.  Also, I resisted feeling His love because of how others who said they loved me mistreated me.

I have since learned that no matter how broken or hurt I was, God has  always been there unconditionally loving on me.   When others have turned their backs on me, walked away and mistreated me, God was always there to lift me up and keep me going. When others did not tell the truth about me to justify their own bad behavior, God was always there to comfort me and to not allow me to wallow in self-pity or unforgiveness. When my own choices and decisions caused me hurt and pain, God has always  been there for me to lean and depend on.  God would not allow me to give up, give in or give out!

How could I not see His love for me and how could I not understand that in spite of my brokeness, He was going to love me anyway?  No matter how many times I experienced brokeness, God never left me.  I thank God for His revelation and  transformation in my life!

I was broken 2b restored and I was restored because of His love for me.

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Dear Lord,  thank You so much for another day in my life.  Thank You for all the grace and mercy You have shown me over the years.  Dear Lord, I know  I would not be who I am and where I am if it had not been for your precious love for me.  I thank You for the precious blood of Jesus that was shed for me.   I thank You for the comfort of the Holy Spirit Who abides in me.   I am so grateful that in my times of brokeness You have loved me and restored me.   I was broken 2b restored and I am forever grateful! In Jesus’ name, I say Amen!

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep.  You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!  People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life, in your light we see light.”   Psalm 36:5-9 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He’s Been So Good To Me!

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I am rejoicing!

He’s been so good to me!

I have unspeakable joy

He’s been so good to me!

I  delight in my Lord and Savior

 He’s been so good to me!

I have an overflow of praise

He’s been so good to me!

I am more than a conqueror

He’s been so good to me!

I am blessed beyond measure

He’s been so good to me!

I am the head and not the tail

He’s been so good to me!

I am fearfully and wonderfully made

 He’s been so good to me!

Again, I say, I am rejoicing

Because He’s been so good to me!